Over the last couple of days a little website called IfItWereMyHome.com has become a bit of an Internet sensation. The concept of the site, aimed squarely at American users, is to compare some baseline statistics between the United States and any other country on Planet Earth.
In most cases, the results of the comparison offer some pretty surprising and thought-provoking statistics. But because this is a climate change blog, I’ll talk about what the site reveals about oil consumption and energy use, which, from an American perspective is as follows:
We need to do a lot more to conserve energy and use less because – with the noted exception of Canada and some of the Middle East — no other country in the world uses as much energy and consumes as much oil per capita as the United States.
Now, before I go on about the United States, a quick note about Canada.
According to the site, the average Canadian uses about 27 percent more electricity than the average American and uses 6.5 percent more oil than the average American. Of course, Canada is also a heck of a lot colder than America and there are far fewer Canadians in the world than Americans (33 million vs. 300 million), so it’s hard to blame the world’s energy ills on our neighbors to the North. Still, it’s worth noting that there are people out there who use more energy than Americans.
But not many people, using the site I did some quick comparisons of countries that I though might have similar numbers to the United States when it comes to energy consumption.
Given the current news cycle, China was an obvious suspect, but it’s not even close: China consumes 90 percent less oil than the United States and uses 79 percent less electricity.
The UK? They speak English, how do they do? They use 55 percent less oil and 55 percent less electricity than us. They also call soccer football, but I digress…
How about France? 50 percent less oil, 44 percent less electricity, 100 percent better cheese.
Germany? 50 percent less oil and 46 percent less electricity. That’s German engineering for you.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “These are tiny countries! Of course they’re using less than us.” But remember, these are per capita numbers, so size doesn’t matter. Also, remember we started with China, which is decidedly NOT tiny. But just to be fair let’s look at Russia, a big fossil-fuel loving country. Well, Ivan Drago uses 68 percent less oil and 41 percent less electricity than Rocky Balboa.
The bottom line is, for all of our smarts, success and general awesomeness the United States is a pretty darned inefficient country. Many of us here who care about the climate and want to make a difference talk a lot about solar panels, wind mills and electric cars. But what we need to talk about as well – and possibly even more – is being more efficient, switching off the lights, considering alternate forms of energy in our homes, reconsidering what kinds of vehicles to purchase, and demanding that our leaders push to construct a more efficient and less outdated energy infrastructure.
No one likes to hear it, but if we want to avert the worst of climate change, we need to figure out ways that our lifestyles can better align with the situation the world has found itself in. Technology (as much as I hate to admit it) is not going to save us. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean living poor – our friends in England, France and Germany are far from poor – and it can often mean living healthy and ultimately living better.
Trackback from your site.